CHAMP Student Sauces Cooking Competition With Perfect Score

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A few secret ingredients helped Sara Adcock, a student at Kennedy High School, and her team win first place in a cooking competition on Sept. 16.

The Junior Garlic Iron Chef Competition, hosted by Garden of Eve during their annual Long Island Garlic Festival, was open to contestants ages 10-18. Adcock, 14, said she developed the tomato sauce recipe from scratch two years ago when she first competed in the culinary competition. This time, the updated sauce earned the team a perfect score — the first one in the competition’s 14-year history. 

Techniques learned at Michael DiGiovanni’s class in the district’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program helped her perfect the sauce.
“I now know how to properly and professionally chop ingredients, particularly the garlic, onions and spices,” Adcock said.

Technique is key when starting out with the unique tomato-based sauce recipe. Adcock said she first sweats the garlic and onions to draw out the flavor, whereas most people sauté them, trapping in the oils inside the ingredients.

“The flavor from the inside of the garlic comes out, infusing the sauce even more,” she added.

She thinks the addition of two distinctive spices: Adobo seasoning and marjoram leaves are what elevate the recipe from traditional ones.

Adcock’s saucy win earned her a trophy, T-shirt and farm gift basket – and of course bragging rights. She shared the news — and a sample of her prize-winning sauce — with DiGiovanni.

“It is a well-rounded sauce with nice body and a little heat,” he explained.